The PGA Tour on Wednesday announced prize increases, expanded benefits and participation commitments from top players as it faces competition from the upstart LIV Golf league.
The Tour said it is adding four elevated events that will each have purses of at least $20 million, doubling its total bonus pool money and raising its guaranteed minimum earnings for full members. Top players are committing to compete in at least 20 events a year, it said.
The changes come after the Tour suspended players including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson for participating in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf, which has been luring players with generous prizes and guaranteed money. Earlier this month, LIV participants including Mickelson filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, alleging that the association is limiting LIV’s ability to fairly compete with the tour.
“Our top players are firmly behind the TOUR, helping us deliver an unmatched product to our fans, who will be all but guaranteed to see the best players competing against each other in 20 events or more throughout the season,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in announcing the changes.
The Tour said its top players will participate in 12 total elevated events, four major tournaments, the Players Championship and three tour events of their choosing. The four new elevated events have not yet been announced.
“Sometimes what’s happened on the PGA TOUR is we all act independently and we sort of have our own schedules, and that means that we never really get together all that often” two-time FedEx champion Rory McIlroy said an announcement. “I think what came out of the meeting last week and what Jay just was up here announcing is the fact that we’ve all made a commitment to get together more often to make the product more compelling.”
As part of the changes, all players who graduate from the developmental Korn Ferry Tour and above are guaranteed a $500,000 league minimum. The total bonus pool for its prize fund will double to $100 million.
Qualification into the PGA Championship will now result in a two-season PGA Tour exemption, allowing players to guarantee their tour card for the near future.